Premier John Horgan, with the Pattullo Bridge behind him. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Premier John Horgan, with the Pattullo Bridge behind him. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Court battle over union-only Pattullo Bridge replacement workers continues

Case centres on government’s requirement that workers on Pattullo Bridge replacement project be unionized

The court battle concerning the provincial government’s requirement that tradespeople working on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project be unionized continues.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge confirmed that an “injunctive and declaratory relief” was not applicable but the petitioners’ application should be heard by the court rather than the Labour Relations Board, which the provincial government had argued for.

Justice Christopher Giaschi decided a challenge to the government’s legal authority to enforce its building trades only policy can proceed.

“We are therefore very pleased with the judge’s decision and are moving swiftly to schedule a week of hearings in October, subject to availability,” Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, told the Now-Leader on Friday.

The minister of transportation and infrastructure imposed a condition, in a document entitled “Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project Request for Qualifications,” requiring all contractors wanting to work on the project to draw their construction workers exclusively from a Crown corporation called B.C. Infrastructure Benefits Inc., or BCIB, which entered into a collective bargaining agreement with unions affiliated with the Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of B.C., or AIRCC.

The AIRCC in turn requires that everyone working on the bridge replacement project must belong to an affiliated union.

The petitioners object to this, seeking a declaration from the court that the requirement is a “unreasonable exercise” of the minister’s statutory power and runs contrary to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“It is my opinion that the claims for injunctive and declaratory relief in the petition and the claims invoking the Charter are to be struck or stayed,” Giaschi decided.

The judge concluded in his July 23rd judgment in Vancouver that the claims for relief under the Judicial Review Procedure Act “are not available” and need to be struck “as it is plain and obvious the impugned decision of the minister to impose the building trades only requirement is not the exercise of a statutory power” as defined in the Act.

The construction cost for the bridge replacement project is expected to be $1.377 billion. On July 16, 2018 Premier John Horgan announced that workers on the province’s large-scale construction projects will be supplied exclusively by building trades unions.

SEE VIDEO: New Pattullo Bridge expected to open in 2023

The petition claimed building trades unions have been “significant financial contributors” to the NDP, that these contributions are funded by union dues, and that the result of the building trades only requirement “is to force construction workers to support and fund the New Democratic Party of British Columbia as a condition of working on public construction projects.”

The case, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association v. British Columbia (Transportation and Infrastructure), involves a long list of petitioners.

They are the ICBA, Progressive Contractors Association, Christian Labour Association of Canada, Canada West Construction Union, the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, British Columbia Construction Association, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Vancouver Regional Construction Association, Jacob Bros. Construction Inc., Eagle West Crane & Rigging Inc., LMS Reinforcing Steel Group Ltd., Morgan Construction and Environmental Ltd., Tybo Contracting Ltd., Dawn Rebelo, Thomas MacDonald, Forrest Berry, Brendon Froude, Richard Williams and David Fuoco.

The respondents were the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Attorney General of B.C. (on behalf of all ministries in the province).

“We’re delighted that our concerns have been taken seriously enough to be heard by the province’s highest court,” said Paul de Jong, president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, in a press release, hailing the court decision as a major step toward protecting the rights of the “majority” of B.C.’s construction workers.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. south of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

Guns and other items seized by Surrey Gang Enforcement Team (SGET) during a vehicle stop in Newton on Saturday, April 17. (submitted photo: Surrey RCMP)
Drugs, guns seized during vehicle stop in Surrey

Police say officers found ‘multiple baggies’ of suspected fentanyl, meth

The Surrey Board of Trade has launched a new ‘Say Yes to the Vaccine’ campaign. (File photo)
Surrey Board of Trade launches campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations are the only solution to re-opening the econony, says board

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

FILE – Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7 p.m.-tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Nurses worried about strain COVID-19 is having on hospital capacity, care

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Most Read